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Lessons Learned—Finishing the School Year

By Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years Coordinator

Inspiration from Scripture

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9 NASB

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3 NASB

“May the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV

Wow—can you believe the school year is coming to a close? Just as you might refer back to the map on a long journey to evaluate your progress, check your timing, hunt for rest stops, determine if you need help with directions, etc., you’ll want to pause to evaluate your family’s progress in this home education “journey.”

Consider from where you started—how far have you come? Are you still traveling in the direction you intended? Is this where you expected to be? If not, was this a deliberate shift or a missed turn? Are you happy with where you find yourself today?

As you make choices for the coming year, you might consider what worked well for you—and what you will definitely change! Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you evaluate your family’s journey this year:

  • Am I satisfied with how our year progressed? Why or why not?
  • Is my spouse satisfied with how our year progressed? Why or why not?
  • What improvement would I like to see for next year?
  • Did we set goals for our family this past year?
  • Did we meet our goals (intellectual, physical, spiritual, social) this year?
  • Were our goals realistic and achievable?
  • Thoughts about our goals:
  • Was our home/space adequately organized?
  • Suggestions:
    • I need a notebook/planner/calendar to keep our schedule.
    • I need to define/refine our routine.
    • The children need more supervision in accomplishing tasks.
    • I need to de-clutter our space.
    • I need some additional organizing tools.
    • I need to have more realistic expectations of our household.
    • I need to set up learning or working centers for various activities in our home.
    • Other
  • Thoughts about home organization:
  • Have I spent time learning what is important to my child?
  • Have we enjoyed being a family? Why or why not?
  • Have we spent time learning more about God and His plans for us as a family and as individuals?
  • Have I spent time quietly with the Lord to refresh my spirit?
  • Do my children see my joy in this home discipleship/education?
  • How have I motivated my children to learn this year?
  • Have I been consistent in establishing clear standards of behavior and following up with appropriate consequences for compliance/non-compliance?
  • Have my children mastered the foundational skills they need at this level to progress further? Thoughts on this:
  • Do I understand my children’s strengths and needs?
  • Do I understand their learning styles and my teaching style?
  • What life skills have our children learned this year? What are they ready to learn next?
  • Have we grown in character?
  • Were our materials consistent with our worldview?
  • Were our materials consistent with our goals?
  • Were our materials consistent with our children's learning styles and ability levels?
  • What do my children enjoy in their “spare” time and how can I utilize this, if appropriate, to help them learn? If not appropriate, how can we work on that?
  • Of the educational materials, resources, games, reference resources, etc. we have provided this year, which have we actually used? What should we obtain or use more? What worked and what did not?

General Thoughts:

  • What I Will Do Again Next Year?
  • What I Will Definitely Change!
  • Our Family: Before and After

Heading into the Home Stretch

Maybe you haven’t quite crossed the final hurdle of the year yet. The Teaching Home offers suggestions for a strong finish in their latest email newsletter, aptly entitled The Last Lap.

Get the Records in Order

While the children’s work from the year is fairly fresh in your mind—before you kick into high gear for next year—take some time to sort through the mountain of paperwork that has accumulated (where does it all come from?!) and get your recordkeeping in order.

Enjoy Summer’s Teachable Moments

Many families use the summer to get a head start for fall with some relaxed studies or exploration of new interests. After all, in a lifestyle of learning, every day has teachable moments! For ideas on how to make the most of those moments, check out Cindy Short’s and Sue Welch’s suggestions for summer activities.

And whether you are looking forward to relaxing at the beach with the sound of the surf in the background, or listening to the tree frogs chirp in time to the porch swing’s creaking, here are some ideas for making the most of read-aloud time with the whole family.

This article is adapted from the May 2009 Early Years email newsletter. The Lessons Learned family evaluation is adapted from the “Lessons Learned” chapter of Home Education 101. Used with permission.

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